I've somehow managed to get myself yet another terribly busy week, so my thoughts on last week's comic books are rather delayed yet again. Fortunately, I don't believe that this should be happening too often in the near future, but that's neither here nor there. As it stands, hit the jump to go directly to my thoughts on Alpha Flight #2.
Alpha Flight #2
Written by Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak
Art by Dale Eaglesham
Marvel's romp through Canadian superheroics continues with Alpha Flight #2. Things continue to heat up in this issue with a flashback sequence illustrating Guardian and Vindicator's failure to legally regain custody of their daughter following their return from death and some present-day action featuring Vindicator's betrayal of the rest of Alpha Flight to the nefarious Canadian government (now there's something I never thought I'd type). All things considered, these events make for a pretty solid issue.
The two pages of flashback were an excellent way to start the issue. The judge's decision that Guardian and Vindicator cannot have their daughter back highlights how the government doesn't always take decisions that appear to be in the best interest of its citizenry, which considering the Unity Party's machinations, appears as if it will be a theme of this series. While the judge's decision isn't malicious, it does emphasize how unfair things can be and emphasize Guardian's sense of patriotism, which will seemingly be tested throughout the issues to come.
As the book gets rolling back in the present-day, there is a quick moment dedicated to showing and explaining how every member of Alpha Flight was defeated. This sequence is wonderfully done, offering the perfect amount of information to the reader without feeling overwhleming. It is also rather demonstrative of the entire issue, as Van Lent, Pak, and Eaglesham are the poster boys of concise scripting. Everything that happens feels important, and there doesn't seem to be a single wasted moment. This holds true for the few moments spent looking in on Aurora as she is taunted and perhaps brainwashed by unseen figures, and especially for Northstar's attempt to resuce his sister (and the rest of the captured Alpha Flight members - probably). I was especially impressed with Eaglesham's ability to depict Northstar's incredible speed in such a natural and convincing way.
While this is going on, Vindicator spends some time monologuing to Guardian, explaining portions of the master plan that is presently at work. It is mildly irrational, but it works because there is a certain twisted logic behind her words, building on the aforementioned injustice of her being unable to reclaim her daughter. It's also incredibly effective, because though it provides some reasoning behind her sudden betrayal, it doesn't entirely explain what the Unity Party is up to, leaving that to be more fully revealed in a later issue. And just when it looks like Guardian is going to be brainwashed, we have our first surprise cameo of the issue with the triumphant return of Puck! It's a little out of left field, but hinting at stuff like this kind of ruins the excitement. It's also kind of funny, because Northstar appears immediately after the short fight to yell at Guardian and Puck for alerting the guards, as he has yet to locate his sister. However, there isn't much time to argue, because more robots appear to dispatch our three heroes, while Aurora appears to be undergoing the terrible brainwashing that has been hinted at throughout, bringing us to the cliffhanger ending for the issue.
Once again, Dale Eaglesham does excellent work throughout this issue. He is especially solid on action moments, which is a plus because there are a ton sprinkled throughout. However, he also does a fine job with quieter moments, especially when it comes to facial expression and body language. I quite like how every character he draws is distinct and I never have difficulty figuring out who is who, which is always nice. Finally, I would like to compliment his excellent panel layouts. I've mentioned it before, but I always really enjoy seeing different styles of paneling, and Eaglesham does that in spades. His choices are often unique and add a lot to the story, making for a dynamic feel throughout the book. Can't wait to see more of this throughout the rest of the series.
Final Thoughts - This is a solid comic. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like superheroes and you like shadowy governmental intrigue, Alpha Flight #2 has your back. I'm of course a tad biased, seeing how there are so few books featuring Canadian heroes - let alone steeped so thoroughly in Canadiana - but the fact that it gets so many things right (like the references to Parliament Hill and the Emergencies Act) points to the thought and care that has gone into the creation of this book. If you've been on the fence, I'd recommend picking up this along with issue 1 and giving it a look. You won't be disappointed.